Causes of Anxiety Attacks

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Anxiety attacks, also called panic attacks, occur suddenly and seemingly without provocation. Deeper investigation shows that anxiety attacks commonly occur when the sufferer is under extreme stress or has a low self-image. Symptoms include rapid heart rate, shallow breathing and an urge to flee the situation. Sufferers feel as though they are having a heart attack or cannot breathe, and often rush to an emergency room. Treatment includes anti-anxiety medication, psychoanalysis and learning to deal with stress.

Stress

Stress from divorce, moving, changing jobs, death of a loved one or other major life events trigger anxiety attacks.

Pregnancy

It is believed that pregnant women are more prone to anxiety attacks than non-pregnant females.

Illness

Illnesses stress the body and can bring on an anxiety attack, especially heart and lung disease.

Medications

Antidepressants, Ritalin and some antibiotics contribute to anxiety attacks.

Genes

Genetics is thought to play a role in anxiety attacks, as anxiety disorders tend to run in families.

Brain Chemistry

Brain chemistry imbalances, including high levels of norepinephrine (which increases anxiety) and low levels of serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which both relax the nervous system, are found in people with anxiety disorders.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal from alcohol and stimulants causes anxiety attacks.

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